When we were taking Dave Ramsey's personal finance course, “Financial Peace University” last year, one of the things he stresses in his course is the need to have someone in your life who can keep you accountable for your financial goals. For single people it might be a close friend, a mentor or a parent. For those of us who are married, it's usually going to be our spouse.
I hadn't really thought about how important it was to have someone there to help keep you in line, until after we had taken the class. Since then I've seen time and again how much my wife (and accountability partner) actually does keep me in line.
Keeping Each Other Accountable
For example, this year the bug has bitten me to get that new 50″ Plasma TV. We love watching TV and movies at our house, and I have been able to rationalize getting a new big screen TV as being something “we need”. After all – the digital transition is happening this year! Never mind the fact that we already have a TV in almost every room, and the fact that our basement entertainment room already has a nice big 37″ LCD in it!
My wife has reminded me how we really don't need to get the TV, and how we should just put it off so that we can focus on our other goals.
On the other hand my wife likes to buy souvenirs of all sorts when we're on vacation. Whether it's the little replica of the leaning tower of Pisa, or the $75 piece of Venetian glass, she likes to buy things to commemorate our trips and remember them through the years. I am there to help keep her accountable though, and to make sure that we stay within our allocated souvenir budget. If she starts buying too much or wants to get something that's too expensive, I'll step in and remind her that we're spending on a budget.
Two Is Better Than One
Here's a verse that speaks to how important it is to have someone who will be there for you, and help keep you accountable:
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
When either of us fails and is ready to give in to the temptation, the other is there to lift the other up and give good advice. If I were on my own I know I would have failed many times, and probably would have 3 50″ TVs scattered throughout the house. Instead we've been spending our money much more wisely, and building towards our future because we are keeping each other accountable.
Tips For Better Accountability
There are a few things you need to do in order to make sure that you will have a successful relationship with your accountability partner.
- Set Up A Plan, And Give Your Accountability Partner A Copy: Write out a budget for your household, set goals for saving, investing and/or debt reduction. Go over your plan with your accountability partner, and get their input and advice. If they make good suggestions for changes to the budget, make them!
- Set Up Regular Meeting Times To Talk: Have a regular budget meeting if you're talking with a spouse, or a lunch date if your accountability partner isn't your spouse. Talk to them about how you're doing with your budget, temptations you may be having in the financial area, and even go over a set of accountability questions to make sure you're doing ok. Keep track of your spending and purchases, and allow them to go over them with you, pointing out places where you might be able to cut things out.
- Allow Your Accountability Partner To Be Brutally Honest: If the person keeping you accountable sees things that are concerning in your budget, allow them the latitude to be completely and bluntly honest with you. If they are able to really be open with you, you'll stand a much better chance of getting good advice.
Are you working with an accountability partner in the area of your finances? Has it helped you on your path towards financial success? Let us know about it in the comments!